The stunning Angie Sonrode, mother to Finn (12 - not pictured), Maeve (10), Birch (6), Harlow (4).
Angie says that the only thing she was ever certain of in her life was becoming a mother. When other kids were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up, "mother", always felt like the right answer for her. It came as a surprise then when she and her husband struggled with infertility for two years before conceiving Finn. Testing didn't reveal any issues with either Angie or her partner. Eventually, her husband was discovered to have a varicocele in his testicle which they had surgery to correct. Doctors told them they should be able to get pregnant in 6 months, and that time went by and they conceived the 7th month. While it took a long time to get her pregnant that first time, from there on pregnancy stuck quickly. Finn took 2.5 years and a surgery, Maeve was conceived within 6 months, they got pregnant with Birch the day they tried, and Harlow was a surprise.
Angie has always found pregnant women the most gorgeous, ethereal beings and pregnancy was wonderful for her each time. With Finn, she hired a doula and had a very fast labor. From the time she woke up in labor, until he arrived was only 4.5 hours with her going from 4-10cms in just 20 minutes. Immediately, she felt that she had entered this club she'd always wanted to be part of.
When Angie was 20 weeks pregnant with Maeve her husband woke up in the middle of the night to her having a tonic clonic seizure. EMT's were called and Angie was taken to the hospital. She was ultimately diagnosed with epilepsy at 28. Pregnancy immediately became high risk which has always made Angie uncomfortable as with medication she has never had another seizure or any other issues. She fought to be allowed to trust her body and birth without any interventions but did agree to have an IV port placed in the event that she did begin seizing and needed medication. Thankfully all went well, and Maeve's birth was also very fast, 3.5 hours long and she came out fist first which Angie says is very much her personality.
After her daughter was born, Angie became a doula and the first time she went to a water birth knew that was how she wanted to give birth in the future. They decided to have home births with Birch and Harlow, which they had to fight for being considered high risk but she was able to find midwives who trusted and believed in her. In laboring with Birch, Angie had only been asleep for 30 minutes when she woke up to her water breaking . She says that this birth was transformative and is the one she hangs onto. Labor progressed very quickly and Birch arrived in the water just as the sun was coming up.
Harlow and Birch are just 22 months apart and his pregnancy came as a surprise. It was a difficult time which led to Angie struggling a bit through her pregnancy. Her body had healed mostly but not fully from Birch's pregnancy and birth and she felt she had to prepare more than with any of her other children. This birth, was unexpectedly traumatic for her. Labor was fast and furious but going well. She labored for 5.5 hours, longer than any of her others. Her water broke and it seemed Harlow was right there. His head came out in 3-4 sets of pushes before he got stuck. Angie says that birth for her isn't painful - it's intense, but it's not typically painful. This however, was excruciating. She felt as if her pelvis was exploding. Her midwives tried a gaskin maneuver to turn him but it didn't help. They flipped her several ways before getting her out of the tub. Harlow wasn't rotating and at one point there were four hands trying to turn him. Eventually, her midwife pushed Harlow back in a bit, rotated him and was able to pull him out. Angie collapsed with relief only to see that her baby was lifeless.
That year, several people she knew had lost babies and Angie's first thought was that it was her turn. She says that she had the strangest sense of peace as she watched them try to resuscitated her baby. A minute went by as her doula reminded her that the cord was still attached so he was getting oxygen. Suddenly, Harlow went from being lifeless, to screaming and they thrust him on her. Trying to reckon that release that he was gone to trying to connect with him was perhaps most shocking for Angie in that moment. Harlow is doing well today and Angie is realizing she needs to work through some of that residual trauma.
Motherhood has changed Angie's body in many ways. She was pregnant or nursing babies for 12 full years and after Maeve was born, was diagnosed with diastasis recti which worsened with each pregnancy. She didn't worry about her body between babies but now that she's closed that chapter and has acknowledged the changes she found herself feeling like her body has broken. She's trying to learn how to love her body and finds that while she is able to support other women in loving and appreciating their physical selves, its more difficult to turn that inward. She honors and knows that her body made, birthed, and nourished amazing people but still struggles with self love. She's working to avoid the what-if's and not allow her children to hear her speak negatively about herself, but it's a difficult journey.
Along the path of reconciling these changes within herself, as well as the broader societal dialogue around postpartum bodies, Angie and her husband Mike, have started the Mid Drift Movement, a forthcoming film documentary which seeks "to change society's unrealistic exceptions of what a mother's body should look like and to embrace motherhood's physical transformations".